I wanted to begin my James Bond odyssey, but after watching numbers eleven and twelve, I’m beginning to question the reasons behind such a want. So far, the franchise has been like a rollercoaster; it started off decent, got good, got better, declined slightly, hit a peak with The Spy Who Loved Me, and then spiraled down into a crushing abyss. This halftime report is merely a summary of my Bond experience thus far.
007 is an icon. He is a man who has become more than just a man. Like the characters from Star Wars, we are familiar with his catchphrases and his methods of operation. When we hear “shaken, not stirred”, an image of Ernest Borgnine doesn’t spring into our minds. James Bond and his martini does. The man has weaved himself into the culture of our world, whether it’s cinematic or not.
This doesn’t prevent his movies from being bad, though. He is not shielded by an immunity pin. He, like the Star Wars prequel trilogy, is susceptible to failure, and fail he does, on quite a number of occasions. Looking back at the first twelve installments, I can already list Diamonds Are Forever, Moonraker, and For Your Eyes Only as being truly disappointing. By the end of For Your Eyes Only, I was wondering why Eon was even bothered producing a new Bond movie. It marks the lowest point in the franchise for me. I don’t know much about the next four movies, before Pierce Brosnan takes over, but I’m not particularly looking forward to them. Moonraker and FYEO have filled me with so much dread and apprehension that I suspect Roger Moore is now beyond saving. A friend of mine told me that Timothy Dalton is an outstanding Bond. I can only hope.
The first half is not all bad, of course. Most of the movies are satisfying. They go a little overboard with the women and the action scenes sometimes, but they are bearable, and the Sean Connery ones always have something likable about them, intentionally or not. Still, the best I’ve seen so far (not considering the first three movies, because I watched and reviewed them last year, and then lost the reviews when my blog got deleted) is The Spy Who Loved Me. Fresh from its production design to its music. Is it too much to hope that the rest of the franchise will be as good?